The novel tells the story of Oyvind Thoresen Pladsen, beginning when he’s about four years old. In the first chapter, he meets a young girl named Marit from a neighboring farm, and immediately develops a fascination with her that will prove enduring as he grows older. At first it seems as if the novel will focus chiefly on the concerns of childhood—growing up on a farm, attending school, the social life of children, etc.—but despite the title the story does follow young Oyvind into early manhood. The main thrust of the narrative revolves around an issue so central to any lad’s adolescence: what sort of a man will this boy grow to be? What kind of a life will Oyvind make for himself, and will Marit be a part of it?